Belmont: A Tragic Love Story

Belmont University is not doing anyone a favor and not being very loving if it ignores whole portions of Scripture that make it clear that we need forgiveness, that we don’t set the terms for our forgiveness, and that the terms are found in the Bible, not in a focus group.

Having severed its Baptist roots, Belmont University’s Trustees voted on Wednesday to sever its roots with historic, orthodox Christianity, too. It’s really the most tragic kind of love story there is.

First, let me say that Belmont University, as a private institution, is free to have whatever policies it wants, at least so long as they are not in violation of state and federal law. Thus it was certainly within the prerogative of its Trustees to include sexual orientation as a protected status in its governing policies.

But to say, in the same breadth, that its faculty and staff are expected to “uphold high Christian standards of morality, ethics and conduct?” Come on. Please don’t expect us to believe that.

How can you uphold a Christian ethic when the Bible you supposedly adhere to says, without equivocation: “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10).

Let’s not be deceived here. Regardless of how you want to say the term “homosexual” in that verse should be interpreted, even good old Merriam-Webster knows that fornication is defined as sex between persons not married to each other.

Now the only way Belmont could possibly avoid the Christian ethic against fornication is for it either to expect those with an “orientation” to homosexual conduct to be celibate or to believe that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.

Of course, Belmont may have meant, “you can have a homosexual orientation but if we ever find out you acted on it and had sex, then we’re going to ‘discriminate’ against you for sure.”  But if that’s what was meant, then Belmont was being very disingenuous with the press and the community.

And if that’s what Belmont meant, then it is only a matter of time before it has to leave behind the notion that sex should be confined to marriage. That or they will have to believe marriage should be redefined to include marriage between two people of the same sex. Once you start down the slope of redefining human sexuality, it’s hard to stop. Once you decide that people, not God, get to draw the line for acceptable sexual conduct, why is drawing the line at one place any worse than drawing it some other place?

In fact, that’s what brought Belmont to the decision it reached on Wednesday. Belmont couldn’t help but reach Wednesday’s conclusion eventually. Once it unofficially recognized a homosexual student group on campus, it had conceded that there was no Biblical ethic prohibiting homosexual sex. Once they conceded that engaging in homosexual conduct didn’t violate any Biblical ethic, it was only logical to conclude that no action should be taken against anyone based on that conduct. That would have been a double standard in anyone’s book.

But the real kicker is the comment by “Reverend” Cindi Love, of Soulforce, a gay-rights advocacy group, in response to Belmont’s announcement. She said, “Jesus’ story is one of inclusion.” She is correct if she means that Jesus extends his love to all. And she is correct if she means that Jesus extends His offer of forgiveness to all. But you can’t read the Bible with any degree of intellectual honesty and draw any other conclusions but that His offer of forgiveness is on Histerms. Take them or leave them. If “Reverend” Love means you get to set your own terms for being “in” with Jesus, then she’s dead wrong.

I don’t like saying that. I wish it were not so. I don’t want people to think that I’m mean, and I sure don’t want them to think Jesus is mean or exclusive. But I wouldn’t be very loving not to tell them the whole truth, and the whole truth is Jesus is very exclusive. Truth, by its nature, is exclusive. So here’s what The Book says:

  • For example, Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Here are my terms,” and the rich young ruler “turned away sorrowful” because he didn’t like the terms. And Jesus let him go. He didn’t run after him, ask him to wait, hold a focus group to see if the terms should be made more acceptable and to the rich man’s liking, and then make a counteroffer. That’s what the modern church does, but not Jesus.
  • Jesus said that there would be those on the judgment day that will say to Him that they did all kinds of “wonderful works” in his name, and He will say to them, “Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23). Doesn’t sound like “come with me” or “welcome,” not in any translation.
  • And the verse previously quoted in I Corinthians lets us know that we are “deceived” if we think everyone will “inherit the Kingdom of God.” That can only mean that some will be excluded. Again, not very inclusive.

The bottom line is that Belmont University is not doing anyone a favor and not being very loving if it ignores whole portions of Scripture that make it clear that we need forgiveness, that we don’t set the terms for our forgiveness, and that the terms are found in the Bible, not in a focus group. Letting people you say you love live their lives based on deception rather than the truth is not very loving. In fact, it’s the most tragic kind of love story there is.